What: The sixth London opening for inimitable steakhouse group Macellaio RC, which has taken over the former Café Monico site that's attached to the Geilgud Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue.
Who: Italian restaurateur Roberto Costa, who established the Macellaio brand in Italy in 2002 when he opened a steak-focused restaurant in his native Liguria. Costa eventually brought the concept to London in 2012 and currently operates sites in South Kensington, Exmouth Market, Fitzrovia, Southwark and Battersea. He also owns eponymous restaurant and shop Casacosta in Fulham.
The food: The name Teatro della Carne translates to mean 'butchery theatre', and meat very much remains front and centre of the menu. Costa and his team only use Italian-bred and butchered Fassona cows, a breed native to the Piedmont region, through a supply chain where each step is devotedly checked and guaranteed by the restaurateur himself. All meat cuts are dry-aged for seven to nine weeks and served ‘on the bone’, with 'speciality' cuts set to include the Costata del Macellaio (dry-aged fassona beef rib steak); and Fiorentina del Macellaio (dry-aged fassona T-Bone steak). As a way to distinguish itself from the rest of the Macellaio estate, the restaurant also has a focus on fish, with an eye to sustainable fishing. Cuts of tuna and salmon, which have undergone a maturation process similar to that of the beef, feature on the menu. Dishes include a confit Alaskan Salmon, which is served with sautéed spinach and a orange and fennel salad. The meat and fish form the 'aria' or main act, with the menu split into three sections as a play would be. The 'overture', or starters, include beef carpaccio served with rocket pesto and parmesan cream; caprese salad with roasted Vesuvian tomatoes, Agerola mozzerella, and balsamic vinegar; and Fin de Claire oysters served with charcoal bone marrow and samphire salad. The 'final act', meanwhile, features a range of desserts including cannoli; and the Macellaio RC cheesecake.
The vibe: Spread over two levels, the 120-cover restaurant is structured like a theatre, with the seating built around the ground-floor open kitchen and meat counter. Guests are invited to choose their preferred meat cut and weight directly at the counter, and then watch from their tables as it is cut and grilled. Given its location, the restaurant has a suitably luxe appearance, with mood lighting and mahogany tones. As well as table seating, the upstairs also has an extensive bar area for those just looking for a pre-show drink or somewhere to unwind after the curtain goes down on Les Misérables.
And another thing: Costa describes the launch of Teatro della Carne as something of a homecoming for Macellaio RC in London. Since opening his first restaurant in the capital, he'd always dreamed of landing a spot among the theatres on Shaftesbury Avenue, and had begun to wonder if it would ever happen. He tells BigHospitality the opportunity to take over the Café Monico site came about directly as a result of the pandemic. "It's something I'd been trying to make happen for a long time," he says. "Creating a new name and concept that put theatre front and centre was integral to differentiate it from the other restaurants. It's an opportunity to truly marry my love of top-quality produce and performance."
39-45 Shaftesbury Ave, London W1D 6LA